6 Things I Learned This Fall

Even though it’s December, I feel like I can’t fully turn my focus to Christmas until I’ve taken some time to reflect on what made fall great.

Emily P. Freeman is so good at providing inspiration and reflective questions on her blog, and I’ve found it so helpful to look back and think about what I’ve learned, what I’ve enjoyed, and what I want to remember for seasons in the future.

Here’s my list for this fall:

1. Soup Saturdays save my life.

The greatest gift I can give myself right now is a quick and easy way to make lunch. Our mornings are full with homeschooling, and no one has time to worry about making lunch.

So this fall, I decided to make Saturdays the day the magic would happen. Every Saturday, I cooked a big batch of soup, and suddenly I had lunch ready for days at a time. Sometimes we have sandwiches instead so there’s a bit of variety, but it just feels good to know that soup is ready whenever I need it.

2. Twinkle lights unrelated to Christmas decor can cheer up the gloomiest days.

Fall can feel a bit dark and dreary, so last Christmas, I asked Ben to buy me a string of twinkle lights that I left up in my kitchen window all year long. On those cloudy days after time change this fall, it was amazing how it cheered me up to plug those sparkly lights in. Some little lights go a long way.

3. An open window early in the morning is peaceful.

I’ve been told that one of the best things you can do for your health is go outside first thing in the morning. I did this all summer, but when the weather got cold, it got a lot harder. So I started opening the window (while sitting with my feet on the vent blasting hot air!). It’s so still and quiet, except for all the birds. It quickly became one of my favourite parts of the day.

Now that it’s a lot colder, I’ll need to get myself outside instead of letting all the cold air in, but it was delightful while it lasted!

4. The Mute setting on Instagram is a useful tool.

People get to choose what they want to share on social media, but I get to choose whether I’m going to read it or not. Social media has been a lot this year, hasn’t it? Some of it has been beautiful and life-giving, and some has been negative and life-sucking.

This fall, I reached a point where enough was enough. I don’t have enough energy to deal with bad energy. I know this is the point when a lot of people sign off of social media for good, but that also eliminates all the good that can happen there.

This is when the mute option is powerful. I started paying attention to how instagram posts made me feel, and if there was even a twinge of yuckiness, that account got muted. No one ever has to know the particulars of who you mute. It doesn’t need to make us feel guilty, because we all have a choice about what we lay eyes on. I take back that choice.

5. The “I’m Bored List” may be the smartest parenting tool I’ve ever thought up.

When Everett’s friends went back to school in September, he felt lost and lonely. He had forgotten how to entertain himself, and he was convinced it was my job to figure out the solution to this problem.

He got very whiney and demanding, and I quickly got tired of hearing “I’m bored!!!!”

So one day we sat down to make a list. We thought up every single thing there is to do in our house, and I drew pictures of everything. We hung up our huge list, and for days after, every time Everett would say, “I’m bored!” I would remind him of the list, and he would look over it until he found something to do.

The best part is that it reset his habit, so now he doesn’t use his list much anymore, but he doesn’t expect me to solve his entertainment problem anymore. Highly recommend.

6. Essential oils are much more useful than I thought.

I’ve played around with essential oils for years, but this fall I discovered a new essential oil company that is changing everything I’ve thought about oils.

I listened to a podcast interview with Jodi Cohen, the owner of Vibrant Blue Oils, and as soon as it was over, I immediately placed an order. I NEVER act that quickly, but she convinced me 100% that she knew her stuff, and I needed her oils.

I’ve been dealing with adrenal fatigue for most of the year, and it’s been rough. I’ve been exhausted, and so anxious that for a few months, I had panic attacks every day. It was indescribably horrible, and I was desperate to get my body back into balance. I was doing the whole herbs and supplements thing, which was helping, but progress was slow and I was frustrated.

In the interview I listened to, Jodi Cohen specifically talked about anxiety and adrenal fatigue, so I ordered the two blends she developed for those issues (Parasympathetic and Adrenal). When I started using them, I experienced some strong detox symptoms for about three days, and then I felt this dramatic jump in energy, while at the same time an increase in calmness.

I didn’t have another panic attack until I ran out of essential oils. When the panic attacks started up again, it was obvious how much the oils had been helping, so I quickly ordered another round, and don’t plan to run out again!

Vibrant Blue Oils has blends for all kinds of specific issues, like sleep, inflammation, hormones, histamine reactions, focus/attention issues, PMS, migraines…the list goes on and on! They only sell a few individual oils, because their focus is therapeutic blends that work better than anything I’ve ever tried.

I love them so much, I signed up to be an affiliate, so that I could get more information on sales and stuff. Right now, there is a 25% off sale happening for the next couple of weeks, so if you have a specific health issue that could use some essential oils, you can check them out here! There’s no multi-level marketing or anything – anyone can order whenever, no pressure! (Other than this great sale ending!)

And those are the highlights for fall! What have you been learning or discovering?

Things I Learned This Summer

Happy first day of fall! I have mixed feelings about this – I love fall, but we had a really good summer, so it’s hard to see it go!

I’ve been trying to get into the discipline of reflection at the end of each season, spending time looking back on what happened and what I learned.I’ve done it a couple of times in the past, and I really like the practice of it, because it make me more intentional, and it helps me to remember times of growth or discovery from each season.

I have tons of pictures to remember all the great times at the lake, but some of the little lessons learned might slip quietly by if I don’t take the time to pay attention. It doesn’t have to be deep, meaningful stuff, it can be the smallest things that somehow shift my attention or approach to life. Emily Freeman does this for each season, ad I always love reading her list, so here’s what I came up with for my summer:

1) Housework usually takes less time than I think it will.
There are some household tasks I avoid like crazy, because they feel so huge and daunting. But this summer, I tried setting a stop watch on my phone to find out exactly how long the dreaded chores took, and was surprised with the results. The chores were always quicker to do than I thought they’d be. The next time I’d need to tackle the same chore, I knew how much time it would take, and whether or not I could fit it into little pockets of time throughout the day. It has really helped me get more tasks done in a day.

2) I cannot grow brussel sprouts.
I’ve tried a couple of times now, and this is the year I give up! It’s time to stop wasting precious gardening space on something that is simply not working. It gave me a nice sense of freedom to admit it, and move on. There’s wisdom in knowing when to quit!

3) Clipboards make me feel official and productive.
I have an extremely long list of daily stretches, assigned by my physiotherapist and muscle therapist, and it’s hard to get it all done each day. I do them in chunks throughout the day, so I lose track of how far I’ve gotten, or I just run out of steam.This summer, I wrote out the whole list, stuck it in a page protector, and crossed each item off with a whiteboard marker as I went along. It worked very well, except the page was so flimsy, so it was a bit of a pain.

But when I found a clipboard, everything changed. It suddenly made me feel super official, and I got far more done because the whole thing was so visual and intentional.Now I’m trying to figure out what else can be given clipboard duty!😉

4) Settlers of Catan is still a fun game!

We haven’t played that game in years, but this summer, we played a bunch of games with our kids at the cabin and taught them how to play Settlers, and we all had so much fun!Because our kids are each five and a half years apart, it’s been tough to play games together that we can all enjoy.

But this summer, it finally worked! We changed the rules a bit for Everett, or he’d be on a team with Ben, but we figured out how to spend time together in this way, and it felt like such a fun new stage for our family!

5) Use a good pen and a junky notebook.

I’ve never understood my reluctance to use pretty notebooks, until I was reading the book Writing Down the Bones. The author says pretty notebooks make us feel like we have to write perfect, important thoughts. She suggests using a junky notebook so there’s freedom to write down whatever comes to mind, even the rough, ugly stuff.But she also says it’s very important to use a good pen. The ink needs to flow at the right speed, and feel good in the way it writes.

I tried it, and it’s totally true. But now I have this beautiful notebook Ben gave me for Christmas that I didn’t know what to do with it. And then I figured it out – I’ll use it for a gratitude journal, because that’s the one place where my written thoughts are always beautiful enough for a nice notebook! For all other journaling, junky notebook + nice pen!

6) This is the best book I have read in a long time:

Did you read Kisses From Katie? I loved her first book, but this one is even better. She writes about how to trust God even when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to, and how to have hope during times of suffering. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

It is a brave thing to hope, to continue in hope, knowing that God might say yes but that He could say no, and choosing to praise Him anyway….I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter wholly into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.

This summer was really wonderful, but there were some hard parts to it, as well. This book was such an amazing reminder to think about facing hard things with the peace and certainty that God will carry us through in the best way possible. And now, we move on to fall! I’m curious to see what new lessons this next season will hold!

What about you? Have you learned anything interesting or tried anything new lately?

Let the Dead Leaves Drop

dead leavessource

This one’s been sticking with me lately….

As I’ve shared in the past, I’ve been going for counseling the last few months, to deal with the postpartum anxiety that crept up on me in spring. Time and again, when an issue comes up, whether it’s something painful from the past, a negative thought pattern, or a habit that’s not beneficial for me in any way, I want to understand WHY this is happening. What made me start hurting that way, thinking that way, forming that habit?

And always, my counselor says, “You don’t really need to understand why this is happening. You only need to recognize that it’s not serving you well, and let it go.”

It’s been hard for me, because I really like to understand why things are the way they are, and work the way they do. I love analyzing things, trying to understand the cause and effect. In some situations, I still believe this is helpful and healthy, but I’m starting to see that in other cases, it’s just a waste of time. My counselor is right – acknowledge it, and move on. Accept that it has been, but no longer needs to be.

Or more fitting for fall – let it drop like dead leaves.

leavesAmazing how there can be such beauty, even in dead leaves! We can enjoy the beauty of change, of dropping what’s no longer necessary, and making room for new growth. Fall has always seemed like a season of endings to me, but maybe it’s a lot more about preparing for new beginnings than I ever realized….

Can you think of anything you need to drop this fall?

Hello, Hello!

Well, after a summer of recovering from postpartum anxiety and a couple of rounds of mastitis, we were finally getting back to normal…and then school started.

I have met my match.

Homeschooling with three kids, one of whom is teething, is no small task. There are times when I think I might possibly be losing my mind, and then I need to remind myself why in the world I am doing this in the first place, and then we keep going.:)

Somewhere in among all of that, Everett turned nine months old. I wanted to take pictures of him, especially with his new little teeth poking through, but he’s been…how shall I put this delicately??….A total grouch. But with some beautiful bursts of his usual sunshiny sweetness. Poor little guy.

The only way he was happy was with his soother and a measuring cup:

EverettI tried and tried to capture those new little pearly whites, but he was having none of it. A few mornings later, this is the closest I got:

Everett and AnikaApparently teething is a private matter. Everett doesn’t share that kind of thing openly.

So he’ll keep figuring out the teething thing, and we’ll keep figuring out the fall schedule thing, and together, we will press on.

How has your September been going?

Weekend Favorites: Picking Apples

On Saturday, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive out to my parents’ house to pick apples. Our girls didn’t think this would be any fun, but it didn’t take long for them to realize they were wrong – especially when Ben started throwing the apples down for them to catch in buckets!:)

picking apples

picking apples IMG_9874 IMG_9879 IMG_9867And now, let the applesauce-making begin! What did you do with your weekend?

Weekend Favorites

Another beautiful fall weekend!

A friend asked me if it felt as though fall has sped by incredibly quickly, and I have to say, it’s been the perfect length. It feels to me as though we’ve had many wonderful chances to soak in the beauty of September and October. I have loved the colours, and the cooler temperature makes the outdoors exhilarating, and the indoors cozy.

The geese are loving the lakes in our development, and the sky is often full of them flying and honking, getting ready for the big trip south.

Everything is feeling a bit wild and cool and crisp outside right now, and I’m loving it.


We ran around in the backyard for a bit this weekend, playing with the leaves, and getting things ready for winter. Ben packed away our patio furniture, and the girls collected all the sand toys to bring inside. It was a nice feeling, somehow. We had a beautiful summer, and now I feel ready to move on to the next season.





branchesWhat are you loving about fall right now?

Crisp in the Fall


Spring is the season that always gets to feel fresh and new, but I love this quote, because it gives fall the chance to be fully appreciated. 

I spent Monday evening crunching around in the leaves, taking family pictures for our sweet friends, and it was the most perfect fall evening. This fall is making me feel ready to dive into new things, and soak in everything that’s golden outside.

Last night was spent labouring long and hard over a blog post that wouldn’t cooperate, and finally, I decided to stop taking things quite so seriously. Some things need to marinate a bit longer, and are better left alone, so today is a day for letting go, and focusing on the fun, beauty, and blessings that are feeling crisp and new this fall.

Wishing you all a lovely, golden day, filled with new adventures!

Saying “Yes” to Rest

My wise friend once reminded me that every time we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else.

After talking about this for a little while, we decided that obviously, the opposite must also be true: Every time you say “no” to something, you’re saying “yes” to something else.

You might be thinking, “Good grief, what’s the difference?”

For me, the difference lies in what is verbalized.

When I verbally say “no” to people, choosing to take more time for rest and space and family, I don’t go back and verbally commit my “yes” to myself or to my family. I feel like I’m saying “no” all the time, to everything, when in reality, all those times I say “no”, I’m actually saying “yes” to other important things, even if I don’t speak it out loud.

I get tired of having to say no. But if I think about what I’m actually saying “yes” to, I start to see what I am gaining.

Last weekend, I had a choice to make regarding a “yes” and a “no”.

I had reached my limit. I had pushed and pushed myself the whole previous week,  and it had been a crazy one.

By the weekend, I was just done.

We were invited to a potluck on Sunday afternoon, and I had really been looking forward to it, but I knew I needed to stay home. If I didn’t, my sweet family would pay for it the next few days. I needed to make sure I got enough rest to be ready for Monday morning.

So, I said “no” to the potluck, which made me feel disappointed and a little bit guilty, but I kept reminding myself of how the week would go if I didn’t just stop.

I sent my family off to the potluck with a pan of brownies, and I went to bed for a good nap.

When I woke up, I spent as much time as I wanted and needed for reading my Bible and praying.

I ate whatever I wanted to, without any unhappy girlies around to tell me how much they did NOT want to eat pasta with raw tomato sauce. (It’s my new favorite food, and it tasted about 10 times better without the complaining!)

I spent a few hours writing.

And then I took my camera, put on my rubber boots, and I drove to every spot I’ve been wanting to take pictures of for the last month.

So many times, we’re rushing off somewhere, and I see something beautiful, and think, “Oh, I wish we had time to stop so I could take a picture!”

I don’t need to think it anymore – at least until I find some new spots! But the old ones are all covered. I tromped around in the fields and ditches to my heart’s content, and it was absolutely wonderful.

I got all filled up with fresh air and sunshine, enough to last me through the next few days of clouds and rain.

I said many, many yes’s that day, and I loved it.

By the time my family came home, I was ready to greet them, feeling rested, refreshed, and ready for another week.

When I heard what a great time everyone had at the potluck, I felt many twinges of regret. It would have been great to be there. But I also knew how necessary it was to spend some time by myself.

Our yes’s and no’s always cost something. I keep forgetting that, because I need to choose one or the other so many times in a day.

This week, I’m hoping for the wisdom to see which choice to make, which answer to give – for the sake of my sanity, and for the good of my family!

How are you doing? Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed because you said “yes” a few too many times? Are you finding space and time to say “yes” to the things which bring rest and refreshment?